Day two began at 5:30 am with a cold shower. I don't complain after seeing what we are here to help with. We dressed and headed to Caesar and Karina’s house for a breakfast of eggs and mushrooms with warm chiabatta bread, strawberry jelly from the market and wonderful Peruvian coffee, from the jungle. A couple of smarter team members opted for warm showers at Caesar’s while the rest of us ate our breakfast.
Caesar dropped us at Azapampa and familiar faces greeted us with smiles and hugs as we entered the village on a road no vehicle should have to brave. We dropped our bags at the little red church and looked through our suitcases of tools as Hedelia, The Lay Pastor of Azapampa and Caesar, briefed us again on the needs of our first family. We were to purchase the rocks and dirt that would be used to fill the foundation trenches for their new home.
With business settled we entered the home area of our first family. More hugs, kisses and thanks greeted us. While waiting on materials to arrive, there was work to be done. We moved three big piles of dirt and rock created from the digging of the trenches and used it to level out the yard where our family lived. I think the piles grew for a bit when we began to dig them out and shovel the earth into wheelbarrows, but we prevailed. Several of the women kept the dust down by pulling buckets of water from the well and splashing it onto the hills of dirt.
The high altitude made the strenuous work even more difficult and I’m sure the people of this mountain gained a laugh or two at the gringos who had to take more than a few extra breaks between shoveling and moving dirt. But we never knew if they did. The people were gracious, loving and appreciative of our willingness help.
I think the two family members that stood out to me most during the day were the matriarch of the family and one of her daughters, Elizabeth. The matriarch seemed to rule the family with a silent but firm and loving hand. One word from her and the children and grandchildren quickly and respectfully carried out her wishes. I call her Mama. I think nothing happens under Mama’s watch that she is not aware of. She appears kind, extremely wise and very strong.
Mama must have thought that my American ball cap was not sufficient for the Azapampa sun, because she brought me a new hat to wear. The native Peruvian hat was beautiful, but unfortunately, my head is a little bigger than the people of this family, so it didn’t fit well. Ruth,my fellow mission team member, who was give a beautiful bright red hat by this family the day before swapped with me. Mama was right…the Peruvian hat protected my face and ears from the sun much better than my hat the day before.
I truly enjoyed getting to know Elizabeth. She is 33 and, along with her two sisters, will be getting baptized in the river Sunday. The team will be blessed in that we have been invited to attend the river baptism. Elizabeth is a bright, eager to learn young lady. I never see her when there is not a smile on her face. Even though I speak minimal Spanish ( I am learning more each day I am here) she comprehends English fairly well and we had great conversation about family, way of life, one another and our children. I am pulled to this young lady and it was a privilege to get to spend the afternoon with her and her family andto share a part of our lives with one another.
The dirt for the concrete arrived and the men, there are three sons, along with my son, began to sift the dirt for the foundation’s concrete mixture. I was proud of my son, who despite being unaccustomed to the mountain air, kept pace with the men of the family during the session of shoveling and mixing dirt, concrete and rock.
While the men, my Aaron included, prepared the mix for the concrete, we spent time with Mama, her daughters and grandchildren. The afternoon was filled with great accomplishment and fellowship. At Mama’s urging, we even tried chewing coca leaves. It tastes like chewing alfalfa. Mama says it is a great cure for altitude sickness, upset stomachs, headaches and a multitude of other ailments.
After a day of hard work, we took taxis back to Probitem, the seminary in Huancayo where we are staying, took showers, my first hot one since we’d arrived here, and headed out to the square with Karina to have some great Chinese food. After dinner, we walked around the square a bit. I visited a store in attempt to find some raw wool. We did not find any there and were told to visit another store in another area. Karina advised us we would have to visit this place during the day because it was located in an area that was not safe at night. We walked a little more and Aaron found a music store. He looked at some trumpets and even tried a couple out right there in the open store front next to the sidewalk. He failed to find one he couldn’t live without. But before we left the store, he was thanked by another patron leaving the store for the concert. It was a fun evening and a good end to a hard but good day.
Working alongside the people of Azapampa today made me reflect on the hardships these people have faced, both in the past and today. Watching their love for one another and their willingness to work hard for the little they have, makes my heart ache that I can’t give them more. Sometimes it is very hard to let go and let God do the rest.
I do not know how Gracie does it. It is obvious by the love that radiates from her eyes and her generous smiles the moment she first sees faces that are familiar to her here in Peru, that she genuinely loves the people here. She comes every year and does great things for them. And, every year, her heart breaks that she cannot do more. Today, after making sure this family had a strong and safe foundation to build their home on, she was asked if there was a way she could help them buy the bricks for their walls. The money only goes so far and Gracie works miracles in how much she is able to accomplish each year with the little money she has for the Peru mission. The fact remains, there is only so much money and she has other families, in just as much need.
It takes a while to upload photos from here, and I have so many....for now, I'll just leave you with a few moments from the day...
|The dirt mix must be sifted, mixed with concrete mix, then mixed again with a sandy soil. All this is done with only manual labor.|
|A view of the compound type yard shared between our family and thier other family members and neighbors.|
|My new friend Jose, Hedelia's husband, and |
I comparing our new hats!
|Mama chewing coca leaves and setting next to one of her daughters while taking a break in the shade to watch the work. Mama had just finished carrying two bags of cement mix on her back. They weighed 100lbs each.|
|One of the children of Azapampa sitting on the side of the road while doing his homework.|
|Part of the foundation trench|
|One of the many spectacular views from the village of Azapampa.|